Tuesday Night, 11/27/2012, I was at Target Center in Minneapolis to photograph The Who- Qaudrophenia and More Tour 2012 and opening act Vintage Trouble.
I had purchased a ticket to the event in July and was just excited for the show ever since.
My editor and I began communication with The Who’s PR folks in September, but didn’t receive any word until the final approval 24 hours before the show. This is the nature of this business and at times, it drives me alittle batty; however once I am approved, it is always worth the wait.
As usual, I was cleared to shoot the first three songs from the pit for both Vintage Trouble and The Who.
I watched some YouTube clips of Vintage Trouble and liked them, “old School” rock and roll.
Since they weren’t doing the video production that The Who was, I was free to move about the pit. I was the only media photographer there, so I was able to move center stage directly in front of the band. After my time was up, I was escorted back stage as Vintage Trouble continued their set. I really liked what I heard; a thundering rhythm section, a screamin’ guitar and a bluesy wailing voice. These guys are good. Definitely a band to watch.
Here is a link to photos Vintage Trouble:
A few more photographers had gathered back stage as the start time for The Who drew closer. The PR woman for Target Center reappeared and gave us the primary instructions for shooting, then led us forward to the pit to met with The Who’s Tour Director. He gave us the final instructions: first four songs, not past the tape line on the floor; which left the five of us to the stage right, directly in front of Simon Townshend and bassist Pino Palladino, behind them the horn section, with Roger Daltrey center stage in front of drummer Zak Starkey and Pete Townshend at far stage left.
During the opening song, “I am the Sea” videos played, as the musicians took their positions. Roger had his back to the audience. When “The Real Me” started, Roger turned, faced the crowd, started swinging his mic and the show was on!
I tried to get shots of Pete from where I was at, but he had a music stand positioned to his right, which was blocking me from getting a direct shot of him playing guitar. I moved back from the line to the left to got some shots of Simon and Pino, then some shots of Roger.
I moved forward toward the line, place my foot on the inside of the barrier between the stage and the crowd for support and stood up on my toes to try and get some shots of Pete. This didn’t work well as my balance was off. At this moment Pete took a step back and over towards Roger…I was able to get some shots of the both of them, then some solos of Pete playing, then some as he sang at the end of “Quadrophenia”
“Cut My Hair” began, the tour director, who was sitting on a chair at the bowed his head smiled and motioned for us to exit the pit. Once out of the pit, our Target Center liaison was there to guide us backstage to the stage door. Some of the other photographers were discussing the difficulty of the shoot by our position in the pit. I silently agreed, but was still just too excited from what I had just been witness to.
I was the only one of the photographers who purchased a ticket for the show so after the others exited the arena; I was taken up to guest services to check my cameras, and then to my seat.
I was seated two thirds up in the first section of the lower-level, stage right. It was a good seat. Two seats in to the left from the aisle, with a few seats to right not occupied, I had a great vantage point.
When “5:15” started, I began to channel Phil Daniels and emulate the character of Jimmy Cooper: rocking out, bobbing my head like a mad Mod spun out on amphetamines. It wasn’t too difficult of a psyche for me to channel. I mellowed out a bit, but still the music brought out this energy in me.
It was during “5:15” that a video footage played of John Entwistle playing his infamous bass solo. There is no question in my mind that Entwistle was and always will be, the best bass player in rock and roll history. I was fortunate to hear him play live once back in 1989. I was tripping balls on magic mushrooms and really that is all I clearly remember of that night at Alpine Valley, Ox’s thundering bass solo.
During “Bellboy,” footage played of Keith Moon singing his role in the production as the band on stage played live. As each video footage played of John and Keith, Roger would turn an face the monitors above the stage as if he was paying homage to his departed band mates.
As “The Rock” and then the intro to ”Love Reign o’ Me” played, the video monitors played footage of events from the Viet Nam War, to the 60’s leaders, assassinations, into the 70’s, Nixon, Watergate, the death of Elvis, the 80’s, Soviets invading Afghanistan, Margret Thatcher, the death of John Lennon, Reagan,The Berlin Wall coming down, G.H. Bush, the 90’s, Clinton, Blair, G.W. Bush, Saddam, The Twin Towers collapsing, Obama…
“Only Love…can make it rain…”
After 90 some minutes of non-stop music “Qaudrophenia” was over and Pete introduced the band. Then the second set began with “Who Are You,” and then “Behind Blue Eyes,” “Pinball Wizard” “Baba O’Riley” and ”Won’t Get Fooled Again” then ended with “Tea and Theatre.”
I really can’t say why…maybe it was hearing music of my early adulthood live, my connection to the insanity/frustration/angst of Jimmy Cooper that I once and somewhat still feel. I don’t know. But I was kind of raw, yet at the same time satisfied, content…happy…at peace.
Ever since I have been clean and sober and go to concerts, two things usually occur, especially if I am attending solo: 1) at some point, the music reduces me to tears which usually leads to; 2) some sort of “corrective emotional break through”
I lost it the first time during “I’ve had Enough” then at the end “5:15”. During “Doctor Jimmy” and then the “The Rock” I had the break through and it was that if Roger and Pete are still rocking out, even though they are not in the form that they were 20, 30 years ago…they are still doing the deal and doing it well.
I have been having slight bouts of panic as I enter in to the 4th quarter of my forties. But it was during the tail end of “Quadrophenia” that I had the major breakthrough and thought: “Ha! This ‘kid’ is alright” and came to a certain acceptance of where I am in my life. I mean…what the fuck can I do about the aging process anyway???
As the second set began I was on my feet and just “dancing.” Actually it was just jumping up and down, flaying my arms like a spun out freak. I noticed that the people that were seated close seemed to move a little further away, which gave me more room to spaz about.
I rocked out for the entire second set. My hair and clothes where drenched with sweat. I only mellowed out as the band left the stage and only Roger and Pete remained, thanking the crowd and then began “Tea and Theatre.” When they finished, they again thanked the crowd for the support over the years “otherwise, we would still be playing in some bar somewhere” They waved and exited the stage.
The house lights came up and Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” began playing. I sat down for a while to unwind and let the crowd dwindle, then made my way to guest services to retrieve my gear and head home.
The tour goes on into late February of 2013…and I am considering another go.
Here are the images of The Who:“http://www.flickr.com/photos/joebielawa/sets/72157632123499852/